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Headshots: The Never Ending Hockey Debate

Hits To The Head

Sidney Crosby was back on the ice of the Consul Energy Center today – happy as a clam – for the first time since January 5th.

It’s easy to recall the night he sustained his concussion while playing Tampa Bay, because since then, continuous in-depth news coverage surrounding the “invisible injury” and its harmful effects on hockey players has been unending (at least in Canada).

As with any hockey injury, particularly involving Canada’s golden boy, came the expected cross-country debate about fighting in hockey. Cue that familiar argument where one side (Don Cherry) says it’s been part of the game forever and it’s entertainment we’re paying for, where the other argues that it brings out the bad in kid-hockey players and promotes checking and aggression on minor league ice.

Fans could argue for days over the effects of concussions, whether they’re serious, and why hockey gets all the blame when sports like rugby and football presumably have the same if not more incidents of head injury.

Moore was knocked unconscious by this guy...Remember him?

Another reason why the concussion headlines may be popping up pre-season is last week’s announcement that the court date has finally been set to settle one of the most controversial hits in hockey history – the career-ending sucker-punch-to-the-noggin then-Canuck Todd Bertuzzi gave Steve Moore in a game against the Colorado Avalanche on March 8, 2004.

Moore was knocked unconscious and hasn’t played an NHL hockey game since. He’s seeking $38 million in damages for money he would have gone on to make in his career, and whatever brain injury he incurred by being knocked unconscious on the ice.

Bertuzzi isn’t protected by the NHL and will have to pay that money out-of-pocket.

Some fans find it shocking that he hasn’t offered Moore a dime of his salary since the incident seven years ago. It’s hard to watch the replay and not see how a punch in the head from behind was gutless, pre-meditated and uncalled for.

The issue of hits to the head deserves all the news coverage it gets, and should continue to be discussed in the NHL - brain damage is a serious thing. But at the same time, the thought of thrown gloves, torn jerseys, bloody ice, or head injuries ceasing to exist completely in hockey, is unfortunately pretty far fetched.

Weigh in folks. Give us your take below. We’re all ears!

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About Carolyn Smith

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  • http://www.facebook.com/Sass92 Sarah Casey

    Hockey is a violent sport. If you are at a game say at Rogers Arena, watching the Canucks play and burrows drops his gloves- the majority of the fans cheer and egg him on. Fans love the fighting, simple as that. It makes it that much more intense. I think really it’s the way new hockey just is, you go to a game expecting a fight to happen and sometimes they are innocent fights whereas the Bertuzzi incident ( a sore subject because I know him personally) wasn’t an innocent fight. I don’t think it will ever end- there will always be tension in games until something is done with enforcement- but still, then I don’t see any fights being prevented.

  • Carolyn

    Couldn’t agree more Sarah. Missing teeth and gashed faces are part of the game. It’s pretty well impossible to get rid of the competitive aggression that leads to kicking opposition a$$, particularly in professional sports when fans expect it. Unfortunately, with encouraged fighting in hockey comes violent, unexpected incidents and injuries from time to time. It will be interesting to see how things change in the NHL over the next decade if big hits and bigger lawsuits continue to come up. 

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